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Eyes on the Street: Are L.A.’s Latest Worst Sharrows on Slauson Avenue in Del Rey?

On Slauson LADOT added new diagonal parking, and door-zone sharrows, then counted it as a "bike friendly street." Really.

5:13 PM PDT on July 31, 2023

LADOT calls this long block of Slauson Avenue a bike friendly street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

Streetsblog has been out checking out some recent bikeways for the annual L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) bikeway mileage article. While that research isn't quite done, Streetsblog did come across an especially awful bikeway on Slauson Avenue in the L.A. City neighborhood of Del Rey. Los Angeles has quite a few examples of awful sharrows, but the newly installed ones on Slauson might just be the city's worst.

New sharrow marking recently installed on Slauson Avenue in Del Rey

In case you, like most people in L.A., don't know what sharrows are: sharrows "share arrows" are the in-street bicycle markings that show a bicycle and a chevron. Sharrows have been called the dregs of bike infrastructure; safety-wise they are at best useless. Though they have infrequent proper uses, generally sharrows are traffic engineers' way of telling cyclists that their safety is not being taken seriously.

In theory, sharrows serve two main functions: they alert drivers that the street they are on (like all streets) is shared with cyclists, and they alert cyclists where it's safe to ride. The point of a properly placed sharrow chevron is supposed to show cyclists where to safely place their wheel to avoid riding too close to traffic or to parked cars.

LADOT's reported 2022 calendar year new bikeways - via Annual Report

LADOT's recent 2022 Annual Report claims that L.A. City did 0.69 lane mile of new "bicycle friendly street" on Slauson Avenue. The project extends from Braddock Drive to Bradson Place, located immediately northwest of the Ballona Creek bike/walk path, and a block south of the Culver median bike/walk path.

New Slauson Avenue "bike friendly street" - base via Google Maps

Just what is a "bicycle friendly street" in this context? Often termed a bicycle boulevard or neighborhood greenway in other cities, L.A.'s bicycle friendly streets are officially supposed to be quiet streets - shared by people on foot, on bike, and in cars - where traffic is calmed in order to prioritize walking and bicycling.

What are the changes that LADOT implemented to make this one long block of Slauson a "bike friendly street"?

LADOT added new diagonal parking. Really. Because nothing says bike-friendly like more cars pulling in and out of more parking spaces.

What's pernicious about LADOT adding diagonal parking is that the parking uses up space that could have gone to street safety improvements, like adding bikeways. The city will now say that they can't add bike lanes on Slauson because now "there's not enough room."

Slauson isn't unique as a parking project dressed up in gaslighting safety language - see also city parking expansion projects in Angelino Heights and Woodland Hills.

And if adding lots of parking wasn't bad enough, look where L.A. placed the Slauson northwest-bound sharrows. Generously they look like a mistake. Honestly they look like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Slauson sharrows are located less than ten feet from the curb, next to parked cars. This placement tells cyclists to ride in the dangerous door zone.

LADOT added sharrows less than ten feet from the curb, alongside parked cars - squarely in the dangerous door zone. LADOT's sharrow placement is telling cyclists to ride so close to parked cars that drivers can open their car door into the cyclist, causing cyclist injuries and, in worst cases, deaths.

Though LADOT has been teasing real-looking bike friendly streets as part of its stress-free connections work (which recently received a state grant), Slauson's imaginary "bike friendly street" is hardly an outlier. Earlier LADOT annual reports have also included dubious bike friendly street mileage.

LADOT should never have claimed this awful Slauson facility as something it did to benefit cyclists.

More SBLA reporting on LADOT recent actual bikeway improvements coming soon.

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